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  • Writer's pictureFrances Roen

Crafting Compelling Thank You Notes for Your Non-Profit

Updated: May 29

A thank you letter is one of the most important first impressions you have with your donors. Think of it like a welcome mat of appreciation.

The beauty of a thank you note is that it doesn’t need to be long, it just needs to be authentic and prompt. These heartfelt messages play a vital role in nurturing donor relationships and fostering sustained support.

Remember, your donor’s gift shows that she believes in you and your work, so don’t be afraid to open up, be personal, get creative, and show her some love! Stick around for the end for a few templates that you can use for your own thank you notes.

Stand Out

Grab their attention with your opening line. Thank you notes don’t need to start with the generic: “Thank you for your donation of $X on date”. Start things off with something that makes them want to keep reading. “You made our day!” or “I just opened your email and ‘Wow’ your generosity knocked me off my feet” show gratitude and invite your reader in. Whatever opener you choose, make sure it feels genuine and authentic to you and your organization.

Make It Personal

In the world of mass emails and generic messaging, personalization is a surefire way to stand out. Address your donor by name and mention the specific contribution they made. Did they donate funds, volunteer time, or provide resources? Acknowledge what they did and, when possible, illustrate the impact.

Be Mindful Of Impact Language

Donors not only want to know that you received their donation, they also want to know their contributions are making a difference. Instead of saying: “Program X happened because of you” or “Today, you helped Toby find a home.” Show gratitude that correctly reflects the impact of their gift. “Thank you for being a part of the team who worked with Toby on his new housing” is not only more accurate - it builds an environment where everyone is valued and important - the donor, the staff, and Toby.

Keep It Brief But Meaningful

Respect your donor's time by keeping your message short and to the point. Short sentences, bullet points, photos - all are great ways to share gratitude and impact. If the message requires more detail, keep it under a page.

Handwritten Is Best

A handwritten note adds a personal touch that is hard to replicate in digital form. While this might not always be feasible, especially for larger organizations, consider it for significant donations or personal connections. Even if the note is printed, a handwritten signature can still add warmth and authenticity.

Be Timely

Send your thank you note as soon as possible. It’s always a courtesy to let people know that you received their donation - it didn’t get lost in your inbox, get delivered to the wrong place, or get hung up somewhere else in the process. If it’s not possible to get a printed letter out in 48 hours, a short email or phone call to let them know you received their donation is a great way to shorten the delay. Prompt gratitude also reinforces the positive feelings associated with the act of giving.

Thank ALL Of Your Donors

Did someone donate their time or their wisdom to a conversation, project, or event? Make sure to send them a note expressing gratitude for their important donation. Appreciate those who contribute time, talent, connections, and wisdom as much as you appreciate those who contribute money.

Foster The Relationship

Don't make the thank you note the end of the conversation. Invite your donors to participate in upcoming events, ask for their feedback, or provide updates related to your cause. This approach turns a simple thank you into an ongoing dialogue and strengthens your relationship with the donor.

Remember, the thank you note is more than a polite gesture—it's a critical tool for maintaining donor relationships and driving future support for your non-profit organization. In the grand scheme of things, the power of a heartfelt thank you note in fostering relationships, improving donor retention, and enhancing the overall giving experience is immeasurable. Plus you might be surprised at it how good it feels to say “thank you”!

Need some ideas? Fundraising Sol has templates just for you!


Frances Roen is a Georgia girl at heart, and has been graciously adopted by beautiful, snowy Minnesota. She is a forty-something daughter, friend, mom, wife, and entrepreneur, and is always on the look-out for a perfectly fried piece of chicken.

Frances is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) with nearly 20 years of experience fundraising and has raised over $200M for nonprofits. She has held fundraising positions at The Bakken Museum, Augustana Care Corporation, and YouthLink and consulted with dozens of nonprofits clients across the globe. In these roles she has been responsible for all aspects of fundraising including comprehensive campaigns, major and planned gifts, annual funds, events, communications, corporate partnerships and volunteers.

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